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Leisure batteries not holding charge

MeltedGoldfish

MeltedGoldfish

Messages
11
Location
Oxford
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
Hi all,

Just picked up our ‘new’ (well, 2012) California SE, first Cali and camper, but already having a battery problem which manifested as soon as we turned up at our first campsite (90 minutes after collecting the van…). Have got in touch with the dealer (it did come with warranty!) but not convinced by their knowledge so after your collective thoughts.

After turning up at the site, we plugged it into the mains and got the correct plug symbol indicating it was charging. Was on charge for around 18hrs, disconnected in the morning but after just an hour (with everything switched off) I got the battery caption. Had to start the engine to lower the roof. With engine running I got the ‘G’ caption indicating the battery was charging fine.

Got home (1:30 driving), went to raise the roof and had the same battery issue. After a bit of playing around, including resetting the CU and looking at the diagnostic menus, I’ve deduced the following:

- When plugged into the mains, the plug symbol shows, the battery is at around 14V (see below for current).
- When engine is running, the G symbol shows and battery is at around 14V, and around 4A.
- As soon as the engine is turned off it shows 14V, 0A and 100%. However, within 5 sec this dropped to 12.5V, -0.6A and 90%, then a few seconds later to 11.6V, -0.4A and 0%.

I’ve just plugged it into the mains to charge again overnight and see what it looks like tomorrow. At the moment it’s showing around 14.2V again, with current around 8A, then dropped to around 5A but seems to have stabilised around 7.4A.

Given it appears to be charging on both mains hookup and engine, and had 18hrs on hookup plus a few hrs driving, I’m guessing this sounds like it’s the batteries that are shot and not holding charge (as opposed to a charger issue or blown fuse, as per some of the other forum posts)?

I assume a ‘positive’ current is a current into the battery, ie charging?

Thanks in advance!
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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14,485
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Cowbridge
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T5 SE 180 4Motion
Hi all,

Just picked up our ‘new’ (well, 2012) California SE, first Cali and camper, but already having a battery problem which manifested as soon as we turned up at our first campsite (90 minutes after collecting the van…). Have got in touch with the dealer (it did come with warranty!) but not convinced by their knowledge so after your collective thoughts.

After turning up at the site, we plugged it into the mains and got the correct plug symbol indicating it was charging. Was on charge for around 18hrs, disconnected in the morning but after just an hour (with everything switched off) I got the battery caption. Had to start the engine to lower the roof. With engine running I got the ‘G’ caption indicating the battery was charging fine.

Got home (1:30 driving), went to raise the roof and had the same battery issue. After a bit of playing around, including resetting the CU and looking at the diagnostic menus, I’ve deduced the following:

- When plugged into the mains, the plug symbol shows, the battery is at around 14V (see below for current).
- When engine is running, the G symbol shows and battery is at around 14V, and around 4A.
- As soon as the engine is turned off it shows 14V, 0A and 100%. However, within 5 sec this dropped to 12.5V, -0.6A and 90%, then a few seconds later to 11.6V, -0.4A and 0%.

I’ve just plugged it into the mains to charge again overnight and see what it looks like tomorrow. At the moment it’s showing around 14.2V again, with current around 8A, then dropped to around 5A but seems to have stabilised around 7.4A.

Given it appears to be charging on both mains hookup and engine, and had 18hrs on hookup plus a few hrs driving, I’m guessing this sounds like it’s the batteries that are shot and not holding charge (as opposed to a charger issue or blown fuse, as per some of the other forum posts)?

I assume a ‘positive’ current is a current into the battery, ie charging?

Thanks in advance!
All correct.
Unless you know otherwise I would suggest the Leisure Batteries are probably the original batteries and have probably not been well looked after eg: on Mains Charging for 24hrs monthly As stated in the a Manual.

Both Leisure Batteries should be replaced.
 
MeltedGoldfish

MeltedGoldfish

Messages
11
Location
Oxford
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
Thanks very much, as I suspected!

They are probably the originals, and the van was low mileage so probably not had much use in 7 years. Will measure the battery voltages directly later this week when I have time to go prodding around in the light. I did also get the flashing roof light/1000 fault code a couple of times, but cleared each time so putting that down to the batteries too.

Dealer’s initial reaction was “sounds like something that will sort itself out after a couple of runs”. Will wait to hear back from their technicians and push for new batteries.

Cheers.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Buddano

Buddano

VIP Member
Messages
34
Location
Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Exactly the same symptoms here. Used on hook up fine but fridge and heater cut out first night of use off grid in early hours and had to start engine to close roof next day (despite a full 24 hour charge before setting off). Batteries appear to be charging from hook up and whilst driving fine, but simply not holding. The voltage visibly drops when you switch fridge and heater back on then cuts out again. Only 3,000 miles on clock when purchased in October (18month old) and never camped in before us so suspect batteries are shot. It’s with VW Cardiff as we speak so revising other threads to ensure they run the proper tests etc. Forum v helpful in diagnosing so thanks all. Will update on how Cardiff deal with this later.
 
MattBW

MattBW

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5,850
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Bedworth, United Kingdom
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T5 Beach
Does sound like the batteries are done. Also there is a fuse on the rear battery too, so if that has gone it will halve your capacity. You will be able to tell this if the voltages don't match. Either way it does sound like yours arent holding charge.

Leaving on hookup for 24-48 hours, may breath some life into them but they are likely to be at the end of their life sadly.
 
MeltedGoldfish

MeltedGoldfish

Messages
11
Location
Oxford
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
Thanks all. Oddly it did allow me to start the heater when the voltage was below 11.5V (which manual says it won’t work), but only run it momentarily and didn’t monitor the voltage drop when it was running. Either way, sounds like new batteries it is. Just need to take the dealer to task...!

Will update later in week if the measuring the battery voltages direct/checking fuses flags up anything different.

Good luck with your Buddano.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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Cowbridge
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T5 SE 180 4Motion
Exactly the same symptoms here. Used on hook up fine but fridge and heater cut out first night of use off grid in early hours and had to start engine to close roof next day (despite a full 24 hour charge before setting off). Batteries appear to be charging from hook up and whilst driving fine, but simply not holding. The voltage visibly drops when you switch fridge and heater back on then cuts out again. Only 3,000 miles on clock when purchased in October (18month old) and never camped in before us so suspect batteries are shot. It’s with VW Cardiff as we speak so revising other threads to ensure they run the proper tests etc. Forum v helpful in diagnosing so thanks all. Will update on how Cardiff deal with this later.
On past experience VW Sinclair Cardiff will not be helpful. Hope they sought you out.
 
Buddano

Buddano

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Messages
34
Location
Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
As predicted @WelshGas I’m afraid !

Told by reception staff that nothing wrong with the batteries whatsoever. Asked what tests they had carried out and clearly all they had done was test the voltage at one moment in time. It’s been driven lots and therefore showed 12.3v and 12.4v respectively (photo to follow).

I explained that no way could I use a van that doesn’t even last one night so clearly something was wrong ! Refused to let me speak to technician or workshop controller so asked to speak to a manager.

Spoke to manager who said he had experience with a previous customer with same issue and disputed the fact that VW have it written down anywhere that batteries should last 3-4 nights off grid (can anyone disprove this?)

The manager did concede however that a proper load test hadn’t been completed and this would be required to diagnose the fault properly. He offered to keep the vehicle overnight to carry out test but needed the van (and needed to get home). I also said that I had lost confidence with his centre after he told me that his technicians have very little experience of California’s and that they will simply follow the instructions given to them by VW.

Spoke to VW customer care to register a complaint just in case this is a runner. As expected they have asked me to take somewhere else for a second opinion.

Any advice as to anywhere local to me (South Wales). I’ve been offered Bristol , Bridgewater and Hereford. (Unfortunately Breeze Poole is a bit far but I am tempted following rave reviews on here!!).

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice / recommendations.
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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As predicted @WelshGas I’m afraid !

Told by reception staff that nothing wrong with the batteries whatsoever. Asked what tests they had carried out and clearly all they had done was test the voltage at one moment in time. It’s been driven lots and therefore showed 12.3v and 12.4v respectively (photo to follow).

I explained that no way could I use a van that doesn’t even last one night so clearly something was wrong ! Refused to let me speak to technician or workshop controller so asked to speak to a manager.

Spoke to manager who said he had experience with a previous customer with same issue and disputed the fact that VW have it written down anywhere that batteries should last 3-4 nights off grid (can anyone disprove this?)

The manager did concede however that a proper load test hadn’t been completed and this would be required to diagnose the fault properly. He offered to keep the vehicle overnight to carry out test but needed the van (and needed to get home). I also said that I had lost confidence with his centre after he told me that his technicians have very little experience of California’s and that they will simply follow the instructions given to them by VW.

Spoke to VW customer care to register a complaint just in case this is a runner. As expected they have asked me to take somewhere else for a second opinion.

Any advice as to anywhere local to me (South Wales). I’ve been offered Bristol , Bridgewater and Hereford. (Unfortunately Breeze Poole is a bit far but I am tempted following rave reviews on here!!).

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice / recommendations.
I use South Hereford . They seem to know the California and have looked after my SE for the past 5 years.
 
Buddano

Buddano

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34
Location
Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Just been looking on dealer reviews thread and think I’d made my mind up to take it there. Just wanted confirmation I suppose. Will give them a ring in the morning. Thanks.
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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Just been looking on dealer reviews thread and think I’d made my mind up to take it there. Just wanted confirmation I suppose. Will give them a ring in the morning. Thanks.
Ask for a courtesy vehicle as they will probably need it overnight to follow VWs Diagnostic procedure.
Was your vehicle a stock vehicle? from Sinclair?
 
Buddano

Buddano

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Messages
34
Location
Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
No , went to Ipswich for mine. One previous owner but only did 3000 miles in 18 months and never camped in. I imagine that’s the cause of battery damage and why a low mileage isn’t always as good as it seems I suppose !
 
AlisonF

AlisonF

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895
Location
Aberdeen
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
No , went to Ipswich for mine. One previous owner but only did 3000 miles in 18 months and never camped in. I imagine that’s the cause of battery damage and why a low mileage isn’t always as good as it seems I suppose !
Low mileage could be good, but help from the forum in what to look for when buying is more than worth the forum membership fee (times 10, 100,...)
 
Buddano

Buddano

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Messages
34
Location
Wales
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
In fairness everything else was mint on collection and we are really pleased overall. Dealership really helpful and even ticked off the checklist I sent them from the forum as I said I’d be using it to check everything on collection. Had no issues until our first non hook up overnighter and I am making the assumption that because the van was hardly used they didn’t keep the batteries topped up monthly and this has caused the problem (display showed 10.6v the morning after).
 
AlisonF

AlisonF

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895
Location
Aberdeen
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T6 Ocean 204 4Motion
Glad the checklist was helpful... need to get it updated with more recent experience...
 
A

ainsy

Messages
19
Location
skipton
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
I've just been through this issue with my new Cali. Interestingly VW assist advised me that an A(DIN) result of below 200 (on a rated 420A battery) on the VAS 6161 test would probably indicate a faulty battery (yours is 144). My rating was 250 A(DIN) and after two visits from VW assist and a week at the dealer they replaced both my batteries, which fixed the battery drain issue.

My advice would be to take it to dealer that knows what they're doing.

I noticed from your post though that you're getting a -0.6a drain. With nothing switched on you should only be getting -0.2a (from the console being switched on) drain
 
TripleBee

TripleBee

Messages
1,488
Location
melkwegstelsel
Vehicle
T5 SE 140
Left battery test looks ok'ish. Right battery test (2nd leisure battery) is bad. Where the measured A (DIN) should be around 400A, it is only 144. So unless the fuse to the second battery is good, you should at least need 1 new battery, but if they are still the original batteries from 2012, they should both be replaced, as the oldest battery will die sooner, killing the newer battery too.

You (or they) should take both batteries out, charge them directly, and measure them after 2 hours of being disconnected from the charger.
If that bad battery still is not good, you should get 2 new batteries. But as they are (around) € 350 a piece at VW, they will do all they can for not giving you 2 brand new batteries.
 
MeltedGoldfish

MeltedGoldfish

Messages
11
Location
Oxford
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
Think we have mixed tales here…mine was the original post with the original 2012 batteries and the -0.6A drain (it varies from -0.2A to -0.6A with nothing on except the CU). The battery test printouts are for Buddano’s 18-mth old Cali. All very similar though – relatively low miles (for age) and little camper use.

Seemed OK when I first viewed the vehicle, and picked it up, with the roof being cycled a few times on the battery. Now questioning whether I paid enough attention to voltages etc. Bought form a VW dealer 3 hrs away (which is a pain), but warranty is with AA because of the age, so will have to see if that makes it easier or more difficult to resolve.

Latest update: after ~22hr mains charge it was showing 13.4V and 0.8A. With ignition on briefly (but not engine running) it jumped to 14.4V and 3.2A. Then, with everything switched off:
  • On disconnecting mains it initially showed 13.2V, -0.4A and 100%
  • Disconnect + 3 min: 12.9V, -0.2A, 100%
  • After 30 min they’ve gone Do-Do on me: 11.4V, -0.2A and 0%

It did allow me to start the aux heater, but voltage rapidly dropped to 10.2V (around 12A draw) and it cut out.

Let the dealer battle commence! Any advice on a decent Cali dealer near Oxford?! Our closest geographically is Didcot, I think.
 
BerndRos

BerndRos

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Messages
1,391
Location
Abergavenny
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T5 SE 180
I use South Hereford . They seem to know the California and have looked after my SE for the past 5 years.
WG, is that the one at Centurion Way, Hereford ?

I now need a fresh VW place to look after mine.
 
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